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TracMap using GPS positioning to make farming practices more efficient

While there are a lot of systems out there for agronomic solutions, TracMap sets itself apart because of the versatility of its job management solution using maps to ensure precision in the task, according to the company's Territory Manager Don Thorp, who is showcasing the technology at Hort Connections.

"Jobs are created on an online platform and can be specific to what exactly needs to be done," he said. "It could be spraying, it could be harvesting, it could be pruning, it could be applying herbicide or seeding. Any activity really in a horticulture environment, whether it is tree crops, vine crops, vegetables, citrus or avocados."

The TracMap system is comprised of an in-cab GPS display unit and a cloud-based job management system called TracMap Online. Growers, contractors and their agricultural service providers can easily monitor the movement of staff and machinery out in the field, record and analyse fertilizer or spray application and capture valuable harvesting data.

"All those vital jobs that you set your operators to do, you can ensure that everything that you want done is planned, carried out and the data captured," Mr Thorp said. "The job is wirelessly transferred through the cell network to the device in the cab. There's a map of the paddock(s), block(s) or field(s) attached with the job that he or she are required to spray, harvest or do some form of work or treatment. The maps can be set up by the farmer or grower, based on how he has got his farm laid out. You may even have a field that is split into different varieties, so you can map the boundaries and split the field into varieties for reporting purposes and for the application. Likewise, it is just as effective during harvest, where one part is more mature than the other – known as split picking."

By placing the customer at the centre of all design decisions, TracMap has developed a highly relevant solution equipped to mitigate the many issues and challenges faced by growers. As a result, the award-winning hardware and software solution is now an integral part of operations spanning the agricultural, horticultural, viticultural and aviation industries throughout New Zealand, Australia and USA.

TracMap’s family of products is continually growing, and new features and capability for existing products are regularly released. Two exciting recent developments have been the new mobile tasking app called TMA, and increased capability of the revolutionary touchscreen device, TML. Both are intuitive and simple to use, ensuring fewer mistakes, richer data and a shorter turnaround time from job activation to reporting – or in the case of contractors, in invoicing.

"For any crop, whether it is fruit or vegetables, the data you collect will be around the GPS position," Mr Thorp said. "So that can be reported in the way of a working line - so it shows where you have travelled and what you have applied. It is time-stamped, so if there is ever an issue with someone saying you were spraying when and where you shouldn't be, you have all the data in a log. Generally speaking, what we report on is when the job started, where, and when it was completed."

The technology is used on a wide range of produce, at various stages throughout the crop cycle.

"We believe that over time, growers will be asked to provide more clear and accurate data on what they will be doing," Mr Thorp said. "Certainly, the citrus industry is embracing it, because they have strict rules with compliance because a lot of their fruit is exported. TracMap does allow for compliance reporting especially for the application of crop protection products. We are also integrating with other compliance software solutions such as Growdata."

Photo: TracMap's Michael De Palma 

Mr Thorp adds the company is currently working on integration with spray controllers as they come on stream, with TracMap currently functioning with five different brands. This will allow users to access and report the actual spray data. Overall, there has been a strong uptake of the system.

"I think there's a number of factors at play," he said. "What we are finding is the early adopters are already on board, and we have a lot of them working with us now. Many of the traditional growers are still trying to understand what it can do for them. It does take a mind shift that you will now be doing things electronically, rather than in paper-based form. Some growers struggle with that to start with, but once they get used to it, they find it very easy. Once their operators start engaging with the touchscreen, they just find it easy knowing where they have to go, what they have to do, and what they have to apply."

For more information, visit TracMap at booth 165 at Hort Connections.

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